Home Take Action Innocence Links Press Releases FL Execution Information Search Get Involved Local Groups Reports DP in the News U.S. Execution Information Yes Florida, There is an ALTERNATIVE to the Death Penalty
Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty works for restorative justice in the form of effective alternatives to the death penalty.
It does so by:
supporting and coordinating the work of organizations and individuals
educating and energizing the general public and state legislators
supporting the many persons affected by capital crime and punishment
advocating specific legislative improvements
Outgoing Illinois Governor George Ryan issues blanket commutation of 167 death row prisoners.
Prosecutors and other politicians condemn Ryan’s act of emptying Illinois’ death row, but they left him with no choice. Read the full text of Governor Ryan’s speech before you decide if what he did was appropriate.
To read the speech, click here.
Judge Kogan’s Speech 10/23/99
“In the last 40 years, I have participated either as a prosecutor, as a defense attorney or a trial judge or as an appellate judge on the Supreme Court in the disposition of more than 1200 capital cases. I don’t know of anyone else in the State of Florida who has that kind of experience or, for that matter, that kind varying type of experience. So, when I speak to you, I speak to you based upon what, I hope, has been those things I have learned in the last 40 years.”
Many Floridians who now oppose the death penalty used to be supporters of the idea that execution is the necessary community response to the crime of murder. What changed their minds? Everyone has their own reason, but for most former supporters of the death penalty, it comes down to a simple issue of fairness.
Here’s What’s Hot!~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FADP Recently met with Governor Bush. Click Here to see photos, news reports and to read the transcript.
Everyone should be concerned at the fact that what determines who gets sentenced to death, and eventually exterminated, has more to do with race, politics, geography and money, but NOT the severity of the crime. The following examines some of the issues which have led people to believe that, even if they still like the concept of the death penalty, they can no longer support it in practice. When you boil it all down, the sad fact is that the death penalty is a bad public policy on moral, economic, and social grounds.
ISSUES OF CONCERN
- The High Cost of the Death Penalty
- The Question of Innocence
- Geographic and Political Disparities
- Murder Victim Families
- Juvenile Offenders
- The Mentally Ill
- But the Bible Says….
- A Politicians Tool
- Public Opinion
- What do we do about it?
According to the Miami Herald, it costs 2 to 6 times as much to kill one person than to incarcerate for life. (3.2 million versus $750,000 in Florida). This cost is weighted UP FRONT – in the initial trial, not in the appeals process as so many believe. Since Florida’s death penalty law was re-written in 1972, our state has spent more than $1 billion on its death penalty system, for a return of only 58 executions. That’s more than $18,000,000 per execution, and for what return? Is this a good use of your tax dollars? Don’t take our word for it. Click here to read a recent in-depth report by the Lakeland Ledger. Click here and also here to see more about FADP’s concerns on the cost issue.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is constitutional to execute an INNOCENT person – as long as they had a “fair” trial (Herrera v Collins)! Consider that in more than 114 (25 in Florida, so far!) wrongful convictions/death row exonerations since 1972, ALL of these people were at one point considered to have received “fair” trials! Remember; when the wrong person is convicted, the actual killer remains free. Click here to explore the innocence issue.
Most death penalty proponents concede that executions do NOT deter others from committing murder. In fact, studies show that the murder rate increases slightly after a highly publicized execution. States without the death penalty consistently have lower murder rates
– as do countries throughout the world that have abolished the death penalty. Even with recent highly publicized executions, the latest FBI statistics show violent crime on the rise once again. In fact, many murders are not planned, and those who do plan to murder do not plan to be caught. Click here to see a discussion on the issue of deterrence. Click here to see how the death penalty may actually encourage murder!
What makes the bigger difference: The severity of the crime, or the county in which the crime is committed? A lot depends on how much money the prosecutor and the court system has in the county in which the crime is committed. A lot also depends on the attitude of the local prosecutor. Click here for a recent news article that discusses these issues.
Shouldn’t the “ultimate penalty” be applied fairly, without regard to race or class? It should, but it isn’t. The real racism in the death penalty is in the race of the VICTIM. When the race of the VICTIM is white, the perpetrator of the crime is 4 to 11 times MORE likely to receive a death sentence. In McCleskey v. Kemp, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racism in the legal system is “inevitable,” but declined to do anything about it. Think about that as you contemplate the words carved into the front of the Supreme Court building: “Equal Justice Under Law.” Click here for a discussion on racism and the death penalty.
How many people of color are on Florida’s death row? Almost 2/3 of Florida’s death row population is classified as WHITE. But take a close look at this identification badge that Juan Melendez was allowed to bring with him when he was proven innocent and released. Juan is of Puerto Rican descent, but the DOC says he’s “WHITE!” According to the US Census Bureau, “Race and Hispanic origin are considered two separate concepts and therefore Hispanics may be of any race or races.” All well and good, except by not classifying Hispanics/Latinos as such, the DOC paints a skewed picture of the death row and prison population. Does Juan Melendez look white to you? Click on the image see a larger view, and for more details on this deception by the Florida DOC.
Politicians claim that executions are “for the victim’s family.” But given the fact that of all the people who commit murder, who are caught, who could get the death penalty, fewer than 3% get sentenced to death, and far fewer than 1% actually get executed. So if executions are really for the victim’s families, then what are we saying to the victim’s families for whom there is no execution? “Your loved one wasn’t valuable enough!” In fact, when prosecutors tell a victim’s family member “You will feel better when we kill him,” what they are really doing is asking that person to put their healing process on hold for ten, 15, even 20 years or more. And that’s not right. Many victim’s families say that “no amount of killing will equal the value of our loved ones,” and “I don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s mother being put through the same pain that I had from losing my child to unnecessary violence.” Click here to read the stories of victims family members who reject the death penalty. Click here to visit the web page of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, including MVFR’s report on how victim’s families who reject the death penalty get mistreated by the legal system. Click here to see what happened when one victim’s family member told Jeb Bush, “Don’t use victim’s pain for your political gain.”
On March 1st, 2005 ( International Death Penalty Abolition Day), the U.S. Supreme Court declared the execution of juvenile offenders to be UNCONSTITUTIONAL, removing three Florida prisoners and 69 others from death rows across the United States. It is no longer legal to execute Children in our state or in this country.
For more information on this ruling, click here, also:
- 3 Fla. convicts spared death after high court ends juvenile executions
- Ruling will spare 3 Florida killers
- 18 is threshold for death penalty
Just for the record, below is our original text and links on this issue for your information.
Florida allows the death penalty for murderers who are as young as age sixteen at the time of the crime. Just think. They are not old enough to smoke. They can’t drink alcohol, or sign a contract, or join the military. This is because children have not fully developed their cognitive functions and emotional maturity. In fact, recent studies show that such development continues into the early twenties in normal human development. But as soon as a child kills, we are ready to make them an adult, just so we can kill them or lock them up and throw away the key. It’s time to do away with the death penalty for children. Click here, here and here for more information about this vital issue.
Florida allows the execution of the mentally ill, as long as they understand what it means to be executed. But what does it mean to understand what it means to be executed? Florida retains a stable of “professionals” who in any other situation would diagnose a patient as being in need of hospitalization and intensive therapy, except when the Governor wants to kill that patient. Er, I mean, that prisoner. Click here to see what happened with Linroy Bottoson. Click here for a broader discussion of the issue.
What, exactly, does the bible say? And, whose bible? We could build an entire web page just on the question of religious justification and/or opposition to the unnecessary taking of human life. One thing is for sure – those who use the Hebrew Scriptures and/or the Gospels to justify support for the death penalty had better take a close look at all the rules and regulations that the bible stipulates. Are we meeting all of those guidelines in the current application of the law in this country? NO. Suffice to say that every major Christian denomination (except Southern Baptist) has taken a policy position against the death penalty. All three major branches of modern Judaism also are on record in opposition to the death penalty. Even the most fundamentalist Islamic codes allow for mercy, and many Muslim clerics have spoken out against the death penalty in the United States. Click here for discussions on the morality and religious aspects of the death penalty.
Politicians often brag that they are “tough on crime” because they support the death penalty. This is an effective sound bite, but it’s not factual. If they were truly tough on crime they’d use your tax dollars to PREVENT crime – instead of to punish after the fact. OVER 94% of all criminal justice dollars are spent AFTER a crime has been committed. How much does that leave for programs which address the root causes of violent crime — in other words, prevention? NOT MUCH!
Surveys consistently show that – when offered the alternative of life without the possibility of parole for a minimum of 25 years, plus restitution for the victim’s family – support for the death penalty drops below 50%. The most recent survey that asked this question in Florida was conducted by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which found that 55% of Floridians prefer the alternative. When asked if they agree with the need for a time-out (moratorium) on executions, 66% of Floridians say yes! Click here for a discussion of polling and public opinion.
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Get involved with Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (FADP)! FADP believes that the most important goal at this time is PUBLIC EDUCATION. How can you help?
First, click here to fill out the Volunteer/more information form.
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